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New (pricey) Frozen merchandise unveiled

We did a story last month about the continued popularity of merchandise surrounding Disney's smash hit movie "Frozen." Eight months after the movie hit theaters, manufacturers are still struggling to keep up, leaving retailer shelves empty and parents desperately searching for anything emblazoned with Anna, Elsa or Olaf.

But "for the first time in forever," Kohl's sent out an e-mail blast this morning trumpeting a new line of Frozen merchandise hitting shelves.

But hang onto your carrots, Kristoff, because you haven't had sticker shock this bad since you tried to buy a rope at Wandering Oaken's Trading Post.




There's a beautiful, reversible Anna and Elsa charm that can be worn on a necklace or bracelet. Too bad it's $100.



  Olaf charm

Too pricey? You can get Olaf for $85.


Or a non-descript snowflake for $55.




How about something more practical, like a cup?

Olafcup Frozencup






They'll set you back $18.99 apiece. But don't worry, it's a steal compared to the original price of $27.

How about something really practical, like underwear?

That'll be $18, please. That's only about $2.50 per pair. Maybe you and seven of your friends can pitch in and split them up!

There was no sign of the elusive Frozen backpack kids are dreaming about for back to school. But there was a link to the sought-after 12-inch Anna doll--out of stock, of course.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Movie and a cocktail, anyone?


How would you like to order dinner and a martini next time you're out at the movies?

In an attempt to win back theater-goers who have abandoned outings to the movie theater in favor of watching newly released films on their giant flat screen TVs at home, AMC Theatres is trying out a new concept that gives patrons a luxury dinner-and-a-movie experience.

The movie theater chain has started construction on the first of the new-concept theaters in Marina Del Rey, Calif. which is slated to open in November.

Here's more from AMC:


AMC Marina 6 will offer six Cinema Suites auditoriums, which combine restaurant cuisine and cocktails, the ultimate comfort of luxury recliners, and AMC’s noted immersive theatre experience.

Guests will enjoy restaurant-style dining combined with the most current movies, presented in the immersive, big-screen viewing environment of an AMC theatre. Moviegoers will have the opportunity to order from an extensive menu of appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, desserts, beer, wine and cocktails, as well as traditional theatre concessions. The renovated auditoriums will also feature spacious, comfortable seating and service at the push of a button.

The AMC Dine-In Theatres Cinema Suites concept will be available in all six auditoriums:

Cinema Suites®

  • Premium, upscale dining
  • Reserved seating in power recliners
  • 7.5 feet of row spacing
  • A personal call button that discreetly alerts a server
  • A wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic specialty drinks, beer and wine
  • Guests must be at least 21 years old

For more information about the AMC Dine-In Theatres experience, visit

A new Mini store coming.

From Business Today:


 If you're in the market for a Mini Cooper, you may soon have a new location to choose from. Towne Automotive Group sent plans for a standalone Mini dealership to the Clarence Industrial Development Agency seeking possible financial assistance. The dealership currently sells BMWs and Minis out of one dealership on Main Street near Transit Road, but is planning a new 10,000-square-foot center on Main Street near Westwood Road. The projected price tag for the project is $2.5 million.


The Kodak Theatre may soon have a new name. The Hollywood venue, which hosts the Academy Awards, has been sponsored by Kodak since 2001 in a 20-year deal worth $72 million. But the Eastman Kodak Co. won bankruptcy court approval Wednesday to remove its name and back out of that deal. It will save the bankrupt company about $3.6 million per year.


Dresser-Rand Group in Olean, which develops supersonic compression technology, has been awarded $500,000 toward the planned construction of a $9.6 million research and development facility by Empire State Development. The economic development agency also awarded $200,000 to Buffalo's Galvstar LLC, a maker of galvanized steel that is set to anchor the former American Axle plant. Empire State Development gave $3.36 million in grants to projects throughout the state.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

It's Friday, people!



Real estate sales and teacher woes

From Business Today:


Check out the real estate listings for Erie and Niagara Counties for the week ending Dec. 30. The highest price paid in Erie County was $1.27 million, while the average price was $151,137. In Niagara County, the highest price tag was $351,250 with an average sales price of $90,520.


Competition is intense in Western New York for jobs in education. The teacher's union estimates that 17,000 positions have been lost over the last two years, and further cuts are being made due to budget restrictions. At the same time, colleges are pumping out more and more teachers, and graduates are going years without landing work. In elementary education, local experts estimate there are 1,500 applicants for every one job opening.


 This week's Strategy for Success looks at Nadja Foods, the empire built by Nadja Piatka and the low-calorie, low-fat snacks she sells at restaurant and grocery chains. Piatka traces the steps she took to build her Buffalo-based business even when times were tough and creditors were beating down her door. Today, her recipes are mass produced and sold at such powerhouse corporations as McDonald’s, Subway, Wegmans and Price Chopper supermarkets.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?


From MoneySmart:


What did you think of this year's crop of Super Bowl commercials?


Ford plant could add jobs, home sales back on track and Flix Theatre gets upgrade

From Business Today:


A local Ford plant could get a major boost if a tentative deal goes through with the United Auto Workers. Ford Motor Co.'s Buffalo Stamping Plant in Hamburg could get a $136 million infusion and add 400 new jobs if the tentative pact it has with the UAW goes through. Another 120 laid-off workers could also be called back to the job.

Under the agreement, the Route 5 plant would keep stamping parts for the Ford Flex and Edge and the Lincoln MKT and MKX as well as a new "blanking" line (which cuts sheet metal) along with other work. Votes are expected next week.


Home sales in the Buffalo Niagara region are doing swell, according to local realtors. Home sales in August were up 45 percent over the previous year's record low.

In August, 925 homes were sold, compared to 639 during the same month in 2010. This year's August numbers were a 9 percent increase over July 2010. The average home price was $138,648. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.32 percent.


An aging local movie theater is getting an extreme makeover. Dipson Theatres will put millions of dollars into its newly acquired Flix Theatre on Transit Road in Lancaster. Flix will get the latest 3-D technology and will be the first to have D-BOX seating here, which simulates motion according to what is playing on the screen. Dipson bought flix in July for $2.29 million.

The first new seats will be available Oct. 21. D-BOX tickets will have an $8 surcharge and require reservations. The entire project should be complete by November.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

This kid wants to get the Led out:


Backwards on TV [on purpose] ...

   In Business Today, a new owner for a TV station that runs old shows. And a panel of experts lament how far behind the U.S. is in exploiting solar energy.

- WNGS-TV bought by local man; to air films - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
   WNGS-TV has a new owner and, in a matter of days, will switch from religious programming to showing movies and vintage TV shows as an affiliate of This TV network.
   The purchase of the long-dormant Springville television station by ITV of Buffalo and two other entities, all controlled by Western New York broadcasting industry veteran Philip A. Arno, was approved earlier this week by the Federal Communications Commission. ...
   The switch to This TV is expected to occur within a day or two, Arno said Wednesday. This TV is a network from MGM and Weigel Broadcasting that features movies from the film libraries of MGM, United Artists, Orion Pictures and others. It also carries classic television shows such as “Mister Ed,” “The Patty Duke Show,” “Sea Hunt” and “The Outer Limits.”

   [Whatever you do, don't start following these links. You won't get any work done for the rest of the day. We will control your monitor.]

"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I crashed the stock market."

   So it turns out that, maybe, Thursday's sickening drop in the stock market might be due to a goof by a trader who pushed the wrong key.

- Stock futures rise a day after market turbulence - Stephen Bernard/AP/Buffalo NewsDave
   A computerized sell-off, which might have been triggered by a simple typographical error, sent the Dow Jones industrial average down by a record nearly 1,000 points in about 30 minutes Thursday afternoon. The market started to steady itself and regained two-thirds of that loss before the end of trading.

- Surge of Computer Selling After Apparent Glitch Sends Stocks Plunging - New York Times
   The glitch that sent markets tumbling Thursday was years in the making, driven by the rise of Trader computers that transformed stock trading more in the last 20 years than in the previous 200. ...
   “We have a market that responds in milliseconds, but the humans monitoring respond in minutes, and unfortunately billions of dollars of damage can occur in the meantime,” said James Angel, a professor of finance at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.
- How a B sent markets into freefall - Canadian Press/Hamilton Spectator
   A trading glitch, dubbed a fat-finger trade, was suspected of sparking the sell-off. CNBC and other financial news outlets reported that a Citigroup trader may have erroneously substituted "billion" for "million" in a large sale. And computer-generated trading may have made matters worse.
- How a Typo Crashed the Market - Randall Lane/The Daily Beast
   That’s what happens when machines control your world, and when your fate rests on whether some trader, under second-to-second pressure, clumsily types the wrong thing into those machines.
- Stock plunge raises alarm on algo trading - Reuters
   High-speed trading, which uses sophisticated computer algorithms based on specific scenarios to automate transactions at speeds in the millionths of a second, now accounts for about 60 percent of U.S. equity volume.
   "The potential for giant high-speed computers to generate false trades and create market chaos reared its head again today,"
Senator Edward Kaufman said in a statement.
   "The battle of the algorithms -- not understood by nor even remotely transparent to the
Securities and Exchange Commission -- simply must be carefully reviewed and placed within a meaningful regulatory framework soon."
- What Caused the Plunge? - Mark Gimein/The Big Money
   Here is one truth about reporting on the stock market that has held since time immemorial: Journalists offer rational explanations, and sometimes the markets make a mockery of those explanations. In minutes. Never has that been as true as today. Under ever more pressure to explain the markets in real time, the business press showed itself to be just as flummoxed as anyone.

-- George Pyle/The Muffalo Bews

The Makeover ripple effect

   The Extreme Makeover team's recent visit to Buffalo seems to be a gift that keeps on giving.

- 'Extreme Makeover' leaves big imprint on area economy - George Pyle/The Buffalo NewsExtreme-makeover-home-addition3
   The crew of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" packed up and left Buffalo weeks ago. In its wake, it left one rebuilt-from-the-ground-up home for a hard-pressed family, home and landscaping improvements for a disadvantaged neighborhood, a publicity boost to the community and, according to the person whose job it is to calculate such things, upwards of $1.5 million in economic impact to the community.
   "Actually it was probably something well north of that," said Tim Clark, head of the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission. "These guys tend to spend a ton of money in a short amount of time."
   And, because "reality shows" don't qualify for state incentives for filmmakers, which can include sales tax exemptions, the economic benefits came with little public outlay beyond traffic control.

   That last paragraph sounds good, especially if you've read anything about this:
-  Filmmakers charged in tax scandal - Lee Rood/The Des Moines Register
   The Iowa attorney general's office on Monday charged the former manager of the Iowa Film Office with misconduct in office and filed first-degree theft charges against principals in the making of a 2008 film in Council Bluffs.

   Meanwhile, back at the Statler:
- Nonprofit agency wants to buy mothballed Statler - Tom Buckham/The Buffalo News
   Three months ago, Western New York AmeriCorps workers pitched in to help finish the reconstruction of Delores Powell's dilapidated Massachusetts Avenue home for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." [The organization created its own impact report.]
   Now the volunteer service organization wants to put some financial muscle behind another Buffalo structure in dire need: Statler Towers.

   And the local ABC station reports that Makeover producers liked Buffalo so much they're looking to come back.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

Dismal science takes over art venue.

From Sunday's Business Today section:
- Burchfield Penney to host conference on avoiding another recession
   For three days this week, the dismal science will take over one of Buffalo's brighest arts venues. But the arts will also inform the discussion of economic theory.

   It's the Fourth Bi-annual Cross-Border Post Keynesian Conference, set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Buffalo State College's Burchfield Penney Arts Center.

   Conference organizer Ted Schmidt, an associate professor of economics at Buffalo State, said the “post Keynesian” in the title is a reference to a growing school of economic thought that holds that the work of John Maynard Keynes, widely regarded as the greatest economic thinker of the 20th century, has been mangled into mainstream theories that understate the need for government action to prevent market economies from careening over the cliff. Minsky
   Most so-called Keynesian theorists, Schmidt said, cling to the idea that markets are mostly self-regulating and that only rarely — as in the recent fiscal bailouts of banks and other large financial institutions — must governments step in with “pump-priming” infusions of capital.
   “Macroeconomics sort of took off from that and never looked back,” Schmidt said
   Post Keynesian thought, on the other hand, holds that global financial markets are inherently unstable and require more active government management to prevent another collapse of the size of the Great Depression of the 1930s. It’s great guru is Hyman Minsky [right], an economist whose works fell out of favor in the decade since his death but have gained a new currency as economies across the globe have teetered on the brink of failure.
   The arts portions, which are free and open to the public, include a showing of Tim Robbins' film Cradle Will Rock, Thursday at 7 p.m., and a of production Depression-era songs, stories and images, "...Whose Names Are Unknown" at 8 p.m. Sunday Saturday.

Why capitalism fails - The Boston Globe [A lot more about Minsky]
- One Cheer for Hyman Minsky  - Barrons
- Why There Was No Depression - Robert J. Samuelson/The Washington Post
- Rational Irrationality: The real reason that capitalism is so crash-prone - The New Yorker

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

Stealing software. Buying Marvel.

   If you are reading this blog on pirated software, beware.
   [OK. Web browsers are free. You get the idea.]
   In today's Buffalo News Business Today section, we report on a Tonawanda-based company that has agreed to pay a $62,000 settlement with the Business Software Alliance [press release] after the BSA determined that some of the computers at Mueller Services were running unlicensed software.
   They take this stuff seriously. To rat out your boss, or ex-boss, you can go here. If you are the boss, and want to check your own machines for stolen software, you can go here.

   But the big biz news of the day had to be the Disney empire plunking down $4 billion -- that's billion -- for Marvel Entertainment. That makes Spider-Man and Mickey Mouse roomies. [Disney press release. Conference call.]
   The surprise cash-and-stock deal sent Spidey senses tingling in the comic book world. It could lead to Spiderbite new rides, movies, action figures and other outlets for Marvel's 5,000 characters, although Marvel already was aggressively licensing its properties for such uses.
   Los Angeles Times Big Picture blogger Patrick Goldstein says the deal, together with its purchase of Pixar, is Disney's admission that it cannot create anything any more, and has decided to buy stuff instead.
   The studio is now a giant collection of familiar, easily accessible brands -- Marvel, Pixar, Spielberg and Bruckheimer -- all under one large, even more familiar umbrella brand: Disney. It is a media conglomerate that will probably someday look a lot more like Procter & Gamble than a movie studio.
   Other takes from The Wall Street Journal [This fixes Disney's "boy problem."], The Orlando Sentinel [Wants to see an exploding pumpkin take out It's A Small World.]  The New York Times, The New York Daily News  Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News